WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — O’Shaughnessy’s comments confirmed the new deployment was intended to make clear to North Korea the US government’s continued determination to defend South Korea in the event of any attack from Pyongyang.
"The US maintains an ironclad commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea," US Forces Korea Deputy Commander General Terrence O'Shaughnessy said in a statement.
The air forces of South Korea and the United States "remain ready to deter North Korean threats, and are postured to defeat them with the strength of our combined air combat capability," South Korea Airforce Commander Lieutenant General Lee Wang-keon said in a statement.
The exercise marked the latest deployment of US military assets in South Korea in response to North Korea’s test of an atomic weapon in January followed by the firing of a long-range ballistic missile on February 7.
Earlier, the United States deployed additional Patriot air-defense missiles in South Korea. The two nations are now discussing the installation of a more advanced missile interceptor system, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense or THAAD.
Next month, the United States and South Korea have scheduled joint military exercises. Though the drills are conducted annually, South Korean officials have said this year’s exercises will be the largest ever.